Bag Making 101

Since I don’t really have time to do more than one post per day, here is what I posted to Bagaholics Anonymous this morning about what my process is for making bags. I would love to learn from some of you other bag makers out there!

Last week Natalie Joy’s post asked for people to share their tricks of the trade. I feel not-so-qualified to be posting on the “trade”, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’d love to know what YOUR techniques are as well so PLEASE SHARE! I haven’t been sewing purses for long, but I sure do wish that someone had been there to guide me through some things along the way. The process I go through is one that I have settled into after making many mistakes, and I’m sure some of you longtime sewers out there are going to laugh at me, but for the sake of the few that may be newer to bag-making than I am, here goes.

* I wash, dry and iron my fabric. If I know that all of it is going to be used for purses eventually, I fuse the entire piece with interfacing. My favorite is Amor Suitweight that I can get at WalMart, I honestly haven’t found that perfect weight anywhere else. Even other brands of suitweight aren’t what I’m looking for. Fusing the entire piece first means that I do waste a small amount of interfacing but it saves me a cutting step later on in the process.

* I cut my pieces, then, if the bag is any larger than an evening bag, I cut fusible fleece for the liner. I cut the fleece 1/2″ smaller all the way around so that I don’t have bulky seams. Putting the fleece on the liner also gives the pockets something to grip to. Yes, my liner ends up having 2 layers on it – interfacing AND fleece. Fleece alone hasn’t seemed to give me the sturdiness I like. If anyone else has a better idea, PLEASE let me know!

* I make my pockets out of 2 layers of already-fused fabric – they seem to be nice and sturdy that way. Can you tell I’m into sturdiness?

* If I make up my own pattern, most of the time I’ll box corners. I picked up this trick when trying to copy a friend’s purse – it was really eye-opening and means I can cut an exterior out of one piece if the print on the fabric allows.

* On small bags, my straps just have interfacing in them. For large bags with thick straps, I’ve been known to put a strip of fusible fleece in there. Again, fusible fleece alone results in floppy handles so they are interfaced also.

* I use stabilizer (such as Peltex 70 or Timtex) to stabilize the bottom of the bag so that it doesn’t “hang out”. This is where the beauty of the boxed corners come in. When you box your corners, you are left with a triangular hem that you can cut off. I leave them on the exterior and sew the stabilizer to the triangles.

* Stabilizer can come in handy for a bag that’s big and boxy as well. I’ve seen a pattern that called for slipping the stabilizer between the exterior and liner throughout the whole bag so that it would keep it’s box shape. This is what I did for the black and white evening bag in this post.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of a bag with boxed corners and fleece inside.


Okay, if you are a long-time bag maker, you can stop laughing at me now. If there’s any better steps/techniques to bag-making, I would LOVE to know about them! Thank you!

10 Responses to “Bag Making 101”

  1. 1 rebecca June 9, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Thank you for sharing! Thank you. And have more confidence, your advice, tips, and techniques are great. xo

  2. 2 autum June 9, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with Rebecca, have more confidence. Your purses are beautiful and it is obvious they are well made. These are great tips! Thanks.

  3. 3 sue b June 9, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    I’m with you, I interface everything inside and out but I use pellon crafters choice. It’s a heavy weight fusible. I use that and I get a stiff bag that stands up on it’s own.

  4. 4 beki June 9, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to file away those tips away for when I have the time to make bags again. One day…

    Oh, the diaper bag you made me is holding up well. You really do beautiful, well made work.

  5. 5 weirdbunny June 10, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    No one would laugh at you lindie, you are the bag maker of all time!!!!!!! Loving the colours of this bag, and the spotty inside.

  6. 6 capello June 10, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Ppft, woman, I don’t know who you think you are acting like you don’t know what you’re doing. Ha!

    So when you make your pockets, do you sew the pocket to the lining before fully assembling the bag?

  7. 7 lizzie June 10, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    As a bag lover (not a bag maker) these tips are lost on me, but it gives me new appreciation for your work and ALL that goes into each purse. I’m still LOVING my new bags and find such pleasure in carrying each unique, lovely style. I think the fabric in this post is still my favorite!

  8. 8 quenna June 10, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Great tips, Linda! I always mean to cut my interfacing/fleece smaller but forget and I end up trimming it out later. Your bags come out great!

  9. 9 Kathy June 13, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    These are great tips. I’m always on the look out for better ways to make bags. Amy Butler had a free pattern in the Better Homes & Gardens Quilting Magazine several issues ago. I learned a new trick in that she used stiff canvas as a layer of interfacing in addition to iron on interfacing. I’ve found the technique to be a little bulky for a small bag but quite useful for larger tote styles. I used this technique on the tote I made for my mom’s birthday and the whole bag stood on its own. I also quilted that bag which seemed to provide some structure too. I like the way Denyse Schmidt cuts her corners too. Besides the cut across the point she gradually trims the seam in from either side of the point. Reduces bulk and the corner looks crisp after it’s turned.

  10. 10 Humairah August 11, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I can’t usually find the suitable fabric that i need for making my bags and even if I do, they’re usually not a nice print. So I use this woven sew on interfacing called buckram. It really adds a good stiffness to the bag and is perfect for totes and stuff. Have you ever tried it?

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Craft Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, crafting is my apple. It’s what I do to maintain my sanity while taking care of my family. I homeschool my three boys, ages 14, 15, and 16), am a quilter, a bagaholic, and pattern designer.  Oh – and I also like taking pictures.

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